Joseph Allen (1790-1873) was the son of Phineas and Ruth Smith Allen. He graduated from Harvard College in 1811 and studied for the ministry under the direction of the Rev. Henry Ware, Sr. He was licensed to preach in 1814 and ordained in 1816 by the First Church in Northborough, Mass., which he served for the rest of his life. Concerned with both religious and public education, he published a series of catechisms (Questions on ...), prepared boys for college, and served as superintendent of the Northborough schools. He was active in the Worcester Association of Ministers and served as its president and historian. In 1848 he was given an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Harvard. In 1849 he was a delegate to the Peace Congress in Paris. He married Lucy Clark Ware Allen (1791-1866) in 1818. Joseph and Lucy Allen had seven children. Two sons, Joseph Henry (1820-98) and Thomas Prentiss (1822-68) became Unitarian ministers.
The memorial tablet placed in the church in Northborough bears tribute to Joseph Allen:
For fifty-six years Pastor of this Church
A faithful counsellor, a wise instructor
A leader in the work of Public Education
A helper to many in times of need
A lover of flowers and of little children
For more information, see: Heralds of a Liberal Faith, ed. by Samuel A. Eliot. Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1910. Vol. 2, p. 212-214. [Photo: bMS 1446/3]